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Dragon Interview: ‘I Cry Every Day’ Says Royal Surrey Nurse

Published on: 8 Jan, 2022
Updated on: 13 Jan, 2022

A nurse at the Royal Surrey County Hospital has contacted The Guildford Dragon to relate her current experience. She told us her work made her cry every day and agreed to answer a short set of questions…

1. How would you describe your work conditions and morale at the moment?

Every shift is challenging which means, at least in my area, morale is very low due to the ongoing shortage of nurses within the trust which has been exacerbated by staff getting Covid or being in contact with someone infected.

But I have to say the Royal Surrey trust has invested lots of time and money in staff well-being since the pandemic because they recognise the strain that nurses and HCAs (health care assistants) are under. It is well-meaning but isn’t enough because it doesn’t solve the basic crisis in staffing.

2. How is staffing being affected at the Royal Surrey at the moment. What percentage of staff and nurses are absent because of sickness/or self-isolation?

We are down about 30 per cent of staff in my area.* Around half of that is Covid related and the other half is long term staffing shortages.

Whole swathes of staff have been resigning** because they can get better money in London and they see that this is not a short-term challenge. There is nothing to tie nurses from overseas to Guildford.

See also: My Response to Royal Surrey Nurse

3. How is it affecting patient care and the operation of the hospital, in your view?

In my experience, at times we are teetering on unsafe and every day staff have to be moved around from other areas to make it work.  In my day to day work, it is affecting our ability to give the care we are really proud of. The sort of care that when you leave work you feel truly proud of what you achieved that day.

I am aware of surgical lists being cancelled due to Covid or Covid contact within the staff and nurses in the community have not been able to provide some services meaning this has come back to the hospitals, another pressure.

4. You have said you cry every day and some of your colleagues are affected in the same way. Is that because of depression or is it frustration that you can’t nurse the patients in the way you’d like to?

Photo: CC0 Public Domain

It is very much about frustrations. I know that if we are not already in a staffing crisis we are slowly edging towards it as the staff recognise this is the new normal and are considering their options.

There is a lot hanging on how we do our job. When we are caring for a person who is dying and we can’t give them the care we would like to, we take that feeling with us for the rest of our lives. It is not a job which you can just forget when you leave the office.

5. What can be done that is not already being done?

This is a government issue, not a Royal Surrey issue. I know that when the staffing is needed they can pay £500 for an agency shift compared to around £150 for one of our nurses to work the same 12 hours.

There is also a feeling that the government scrapping bursaries for training nurses has stopped many potential home-grown nurses joining the NHS.

Added to that, nearly all our nurses recruited from Europe left due to uncertainties around Brexit. Since then no new nurses have been recruited from there. Politicians talked about the money tree or have been dismissive of the nurses asking for a pay rise and this is now the effect. This is not forgotten.

6. Do you feel that those managers above you, the politicians and the public care sufficiently about the situation?

I feel the managers get it but their hands are tied. I think if the public realised the true position, I feel the subject would get more urgency. I feel politicians are missing the point.

Sometimes we talk of how stretched we were pre-pandemic, little did we know how much worse it could be.

*The official figures show a staff absence rate of five per cent for the month of December but this is against the number of staff currently in post; so does not take account of staff vacancies.

** More than 27,000 people voluntarily resigned from the NHS from July to September last year, the highest number on record. (Source i news)

See also: RSCH Staff Have the Wholehearted Support of the Community

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Responses to Dragon Interview: ‘I Cry Every Day’ Says Royal Surrey Nurse

  1. Mike Dent Reply

    January 11, 2022 at 4:54 pm

    What does our MP think about the problems highlighted in the article above?

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